This Suspicious Murdaugh Family Death Dates Back to 1940

this suspicious murdaugh family death dates back to 1940
Another Suspicious Murdaugh Death Happened in 1940Netflix

On March 2, 2023, disgraced ex-lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the double homicide of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, Paul Murdaugh. While the trial gripped America, Netflix’s latest true crime docuseries, Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, explored the string of deaths associated with the once-prominent South Carolina family.

The three-part series details the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, as well as the deaths of Stephen Smith, Mallory Beach, and Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield. In the third episode, the docuseries also recounts the attempted murder of Alex Murdaugh. On September 4, 2021 — three months after Maggie and Paul were killed in the Murdaugh’s hunting lodge — Alex was shot while changing a flat tire on the side of the road in Hampton County, South Carolina, NBC News reports.

murdaugh murders a southern scandal l to r alex murdaugh, morgan doughty, paul murdaugh and maggie murdaugh in murdaugh murders a southern scandal cr courtesy of netflix © 2023

But days later, it was revealed that the shooting was an alleged suicide-for-hire reportedly arranged by Alex Murdaugh. According to NBC News, Alex allegedly hired hitman Curtis Edward Smith to kill him so he could secure a $10 million life insurance payout for his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh.

Although Alex survived the shooting, historians have drawn comparisons from this scheme to the 1940 death of his great-grandfather, Randolph Murdaugh Sr. — a death that eventually led to a payout for the family.

In 1910, as reported by Michael M. DeWitt, Jr. of Greenville News, Randolph founded the law firm formerly known as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), now named Parker Law Group LLP. One decade later, in 1920, Randolph was elected solicitor of the 14th Circuit, a multi-county judicial circuit in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, effectively starting the Murdaugh family’s legal reign in the state. A Murdaugh would hold the position for the next 86 years, Greenville News reports.

murdaugh murders a southern scandal center alex murdaugh in murdaugh murders a southern scandal cr netflix © 2023

The family soon established a prominent reputation in the Lowcountry, DeWitt writes. But on July 19, 1940, Randolph was killed in a train accident about four miles east of Varnville, South Carolina.

According to Greenville News, Randolph was on his way home from a friend’s house when his car suspiciously stopped in the middle of a railroad crossing. Minutes later, a Charleston and Western Carolina Railway freight train slammed into the car, killing 59-year-old Randolph instantly. During an investigation into the crash, the train’s engineer alleged that Randolph lifted his hand, seemingly waving, as the train approached, DeWitt reports. Although some historians questioned if alcohol was involved, or if Randolph’s death was a suicide, the Hampton County coroner eventually ruled it an accident.

Randolph’s son, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., succeeded his father as the 14th Circuit solicitor and on October 1, 1940, sued Charleston and Western Carolina Railway Co. for $100,000. According to Greenville News, the case was settled in September 1941 and the Murdaugh family received an undisclosed amount.

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